Sunday, February 24, 2008

Teaching Kids to be Honest

I found a $10.00 bill at Wal-Mart. It was sitting in between some baby food. I picked it up and put it in my cart as if it were groceries. I didn't want to deal with deciding whether or not to keep it. What are the chances that someone would report they lost $10.00? The kids weren't with me, but I still kept thinking what would they think. I got up to the counter and started unloading the groceries and ended up putting the bill on the conveyer belt with the food as if I was buying the money. Strange I know.

I almost grabbed it, then I told the cashier I found it. She said,"I don't think anyone has every turned in cash before." She called the manager and he was walking around all upset about something else. She handed me the bill and pointed at him. I went up to talk to him and he basically didn't listen to me, grabbed the money out of my hand and said thanks. I stood there dumbfounded that I just donated $10.00 to Wal-Mart.

What would you do? Am I insane? I kept thinking if my 4-year-old had been with me I would have had to turn in the money to teach him right from wrong. But I also think it was kind of a stupid thing to do too.

Parent Center says to lead by example:

Set a good example. The best way to teach honesty is to be honest. Avoid lying to your child, even about difficult subjects such as illness, death, or divorce. It's better to admit that some things are hard to talk about than to try to cover them up. Remember, your grade-schooler still looks to you and your partner as role models.

So have no doubt: He'll take note if he hears you tell his uncle how you managed to cheat on your taxes, and he'll be rightly confused if you instruct him to lie about his age so you can save a few dollars on his amusement park admission. Honesty does have a price, and it's worth paying it now.

What do you think? How do you teach your kids to be honest?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Diane Vespa said...

I would have looked around to see if anyone could have recently dropped it, and if not, just kept it. It's not like you can ask anyone to identify it, after all. Sorry ;( said...

You are the third person who has told me that. I guess I should have just kept the money. It was only $10.00. I can't imagine anyone was stressed about losing it.

Exblick said...

I would have turned it in. Especially given that you found it in the baby food aisle...$10 could've bought a fair amount of baby food. I would have felt guilty that it was someone's last 10 bucks, especially since I've been in that situation myself.

I terms of teaching my children to be honest, my husband and I tell the boys that if they do something wrong and then lie about it, they get punished twice! While it's challenging not to freak when they admit that they lied about something, we think it's more important that they feel they can come to use with a guilty conscience and fess up. The consequence for being caught in a lie and not fessing up is much more harsh than just admitting the deceit. We want the boys to know they can make a bad choice, admit to it, be given a consequence and still feel like they can trust us not to over-react.

Anonymous said...

Actually there are plenty of people who would of been stressed about it. When my youngest was a baby we made too much to qualify for any support of any kind like food stamps or wic or anything. But with three kids and only one parent able to work because day care is more expensive than the others salary would be money stays pretty tight. Every little bit we had was strictly budgeted for something but we made sure everything was paid. There are plenty of others who have to choose between going hungry and paying bills and don't qualify for anything too. That ten dollars may have well been someone's only money they had to buy that baby food it was sitting by. Maybe they set it down for some reason to grab some baby food and forgot to pick it back up. It didn't just show up there by itself. So now they have the choice of going hungry going without paying something else. I realize there is really no way to prove who's money it was but could you really sit there and tell people you would feel right with just keeping that money. Maybe you could of spent it on 10 dollars worth of food donated to a shelter or food bank instead of donating it to Wal-Mart or keeping it. said...

Anonymous and Exblick,
I am glad to hear that. I think I would still be feeling weird about it today had I spent the money. The thought of donating it did go through my head. $10.00 is about 5 days of food for the baby. So, that might be helpful to someone. Unfortunately, the manager just grabbed the money and walked away. I didn't get a chance to do anything more with it. I would like to think someone asked the help desk if anyone turned in their money and it got back to the rightful owner, but I kind of doubt it.
I like the tips for younsters. I often think twice about how I am going to explain things to my son so he understands he doesn't have to lie to me, but he does have to listen.

tls1995 said...

I think you did the right thing turning it in. I agree with anonymous. There are those out there that $10 means not eating.

Another thought - what if it was a child who lost it? Can you imagine getting $10 from Grandma for your birthday, going to Wal-Mart to spend it and loosing it? said...

tls 1995,
Yes that would be optimal. I just kept thinking, I am donating money to Wal-Mart because I really doubt anyone came to claim the cash. See what I mean?

Anonymous said...

The problem I see with it is you don't seem to understand that it was your statement of

". I can't imagine anyone was stressed about losing it."

that is upsetting to people.

I know donating it to Wal-Mart was the honest thing to do even though it seems like a dumb thing to donate more money to them. But the fact is that there are a lot of people who really would be stressing over losing ten dollars.

There are plenty of people who work extremely hard for what money they do get only to see it all gone as soon as they cash their checks going to bills or whatnot. I have family members in that situation after the wage earner lost their job and they got way behind on everything and when he finally did get another job hes making half of what he did make. They cut lots out of their lives to make sure things are getting paid and there is food on the table and there are times when they did not even have the ten dollars to stress about losing. said...

I wasn't trying to imply that $10.00 isn't a lot of money for people. What I was trying to say is I have heard of people losing hundreds of dollars and not getting it back. It would make me sick to my stomach to lose $10.00, but it would be much worse to lose my mortage payment or car payment. I didn't want to make too big a deal out of it. I understand your point. $10.00 is a lot of money to some people. I agree.

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